Massmind Wirebot presentation
Treadmill motors are available for /nothing/ by taking apart old discarded treadmills. They are commonly available at ewaste and dumps. Even in working condition they are commonly available for next to nothing. They will run on DC power and produce good torque at 40 volts, and can be controlled with great precision with about $40 worth of open source electronics.
Motor shaft connects to winch drum, and you need 3 of those so total cost in mid hundreds is VERY doable excluding labor, land, and whatever payload. Poles are about $90 for 42' ^ plus guys and cable. Assuming it doesn't need to lift a ton.
For Gardening, the 1st application is just mounting a web cam and taking up-close, high resolution, pictures at the same time every day. Then you stitch those together to form a detailed record. If a plant dies, you can "go back in time" and see what symptoms it exhibited. Then look for that symptom in other plants. This annotated data is ideal for machine learning. When the wirebot is all the way up, the webcam can be used for pest detection and deterrent. e.g. see and chase rabbits and moles out of the garden. Then add a set of probes and measure soil moisture, and a thin plastic tube to provide each plant with the ideal amount of water. And use the probes to destroy weeds you identify from the photo at the comfort of your office desk. you can even crowd source your weeding. Eventually, add a seed dispenser and you have a much larger farmbot for less made from junk.
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<A HREF="http://techref.massmind.org/Techref/robot/wirebot.htm"> Wire Bots, Cable Bots, Cabled robots.</A>
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